Touch of Spice

One adult's trash is a kid's treasure


I've read that the older you get, the less sleep you need, which is why babies can sleep for 18 hours a day. I wonder, though, why the older my kids get, the less sleep they need, the more I seem to get.

It's a scheduling thing. Babies get their sleep in short bursts that are interrupted by the need for food. As they grow, they sleep less, but it tends to come in a solid block.

God that makes me happy.

There are glitches in the process. I've had two sick girls for the past three days. Illness makes Nikki more tender and cuddly. It makes Katie more combative. She's just disgusted with the thought of "needing" anyone to take care of her that she shoos you away at every opportunity.

As she's coughing and crying in the middle of the night, I go running. The minute I hit the door, she's holding her hand, wrist bent in the traditional traffic cop's stop sign, and says, "go way."

"Want momma to rock you?"


"Want some medicine?"


"Want a drink?"

"Go way."

I could find no solution, so I got her a drink anyway. When I returned, she scooted to the corner of her bed, pointed to a point that wasn't touching her and said, "put it right there."

I was forced to leave it at that.

It's hard to figure out what she wants.

And that's the segue into my tips for parents. We've just been through the birthday thing and the difficulty for figuring out what they want and their fondness for doing just the opposite that inspired me to make a list. The list includes the things that entertain children that you'd never think to buy them when a holiday rolls around.

  • A laundry basket -- In goes a pillow, a blanket and Nikki, which leaves a Katie free to push the basket from one end of the house to the other. Sometimes they switch, but Nikki's little, so they don't really even get from one end of the room to the other. So, Nikki dumps Katie and puts a doll in her place and proceeds to happily drive the doll through the living room, into the kitchen and back again. That's about $10 bucks and serves the dual purpose of actually (occasionally) toting laundry.
  • A box -- This is a must-have for all parents of young ones. It has uses that adults can't even imagine from playhouse, to bed to trap you're sister 'till she screams. It's a lot of fun, and best of all it's free.
  • Kitchen utensils -- I'm missing several wooden spoons that were drumsticks for a time and a small funnel that was used like a telescope.
  • Diapers --- Since you generally have these on hand anyway, the entertainment value is endless. My girls empty the entire bag (that's loads of fun for me) and line them up on the floor. Then, they walk back and forth across them. It's like a padded balance beam.
  • Miscellaneous items -- Pretty much anything you'd want to throw in the trash is an item that can provide endless fun. Nikki carried around the empty container that was a Listerine Pocket Pack for days, pretending to hand the breath-fresheners to everyone she met. It was great fun when they both sat on my lap, one putting a small toy spider in my mouth and laughing hilariously as I gagged and choked and spit it out. Then Nikki would open her pocket pack and pretend to give me one of the little mints. I guess, after eating a spider, she thought I needed it.
  • Mail -- We have zillions of children's books, but what really draws my kids' attention is junk mail. They'll lie on their stomachs, heads propped in hands, and thumb through a Fingerhut or Oriental Trading Company magazine for hours. Luckily, it's something we get plenty of, so they never get bored and there's always enough for both.

o Kleenex -- The clean up on this one is miserable, but kids just love to pull it out of the box piece by piece, shred it and spread it around the house. If you're looking to buy a little quiet time, it'll cost less than $2. Of course, because the cleanup is so time consuming, you may not find it an equal trade.

The point is, be creative. Kids don't have to be expensive if you just understand that they can, and do, make everything a toy.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at

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